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  |  Enrico Signoretti

Object Storage: Perfect for Primary Email Storage

Many people still think that object storage is only applicable to a limited number of use cases. Traditional object storage is usually associated with cold data workloads, and this is where OpenOI differentiates itself from the competition: OpenIO SDS truly is a next-generation object store.

Zimbra and Storage

Last week I attended the Zimbra Forum in Paris, and I would like to talk about an important feature that will be soon available to all Zimbra customers. Zextras, one of the most important contributors to Zimbra code, has dramatically improved how Zimbra handles storage. In previous product releases, object storage was seen as a secondary storage layer, mostly for archiving. Savings were apparent, but using object storage added complexity to the overall infrastructure (i.e. there were two storage systems to manage).

Now, it will be possible to use object storage as primary storage too.

Email Needs Object Storage

An email is a perfect object. You can easily think about mapping email accounts with object store users, folders with buckets, and emails with objects. It is a bit different than with other use cases where you usually have one or a few users, a few buckets, and millions or billions of objects per bucket. In fact, the very first project for which the ancestor of OpenIO SDS was developed (in 2007!) was a large email infrastructure.

At OpenIO we have been doing primary email storage since forever:

  • It simplifies the overall infrastructure,
  • it is easier to manage,
  • it is easier to scale,
  • and has a lower $/GB compared to any other solution.

Zimbra will now be able to use OpenIO SDS for both primary and secondary storage.

SDS can be easily configured to take advantage of multiple storage tiers (flash memory and HDDs), as well as data protection mechanisms. At the same time, thanks to our dynamic data protection policy, it is possible to efficiently manage both small and large objects, optimizing capacity and performance at the same time.

The other characteristics of OpenIO SDS—such as remote data replication, distributed erasure coding, and conscience technology—simplify cluster expansion, and contribute to the overall simplification and ease of use of the infrastructure, as well as to its reliability.


Next-gen object storage is faster and more efficient than traditional solutions. It can be used for a broader range of use cases for better data consolidation and increased overall savings, email is the perfect example of this. Contrary to traditional solutions, OpenIO SDS can consolidate primary and secondary email storage in a single cluster without needing any other, more expensive, resources.